Salesforce Chatter just went live to all customers earlier today, but already it is being attacked from below by smaller social CRM players. Taking a page from Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff’s own playbook of getting attention by going after larger incumbents, Bantam Live CEO John Rourke likens Chatter to lipstick on a pig. The pig in question is the underlying Salesforce app which he describes as having “the interface only the mother of a database technician could love.”
Now that he’s got your attention, what Rourke really wants to tell you is that Bantam Live is the social CRM for small businesses. Bantam Live launched last year at one of our Realtime Crunchups, and it came out of beta last February. A couple weeks ago, I got him on video talking about his approach to social CRM and how he positions Bantam Live against the Salesforce juggernaut. He also gave me a demo of his social enterprise app. (Watch the videos below).
Bantam Live is a Web-based communications and collaboration tool for businesses. It’s like Yammer with project management and CRM features. Everyone in a company can talk to each other privately in a stream and keep track of deals collectively, while outside conversations from Twitter and elsewhere can also be pulled in. You can monitor Twitter conversations and reply to them from within Bantam Live, and even create contacts from Twitter account names.
Bantam Live has been adding a ton of new features to try to stay one step ahead of Salesforce. The app now works with Google contacts, Google Buzz, Google Calendar, and Google Docs (it will soon be added to the Google Apps Marketplace). Contacts in Bantam Live are now matched up to their social profiles across the Web. It is integrated with email app Rapportive, and Mailchimp is coming up. There are also new icons in the activity stream to give visual cues when deals are modified. And there is an API.
Trash talk aside and parody commercials, competition is good for the evolution of social CRM. It keeps everyone on their toes.