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Salesforce.com Adds Yahoo! to Lofty Client List

In what is arguably its most important deal inked next to partnering with IBM Corp. in June, Salesforce.com signed up as Yahoo! Inc.'s sole provider of sales force automation services for the giant portal's Small Business Center.

OutCast Communications public relations representative Rachel Chaplin confirmed the deal Wednesday on behalf of Salesforce.com. More specific terms of the deal, which will be officially announced next week, were not made public.

With the deal, first reported by TechWeb, the e-business application service provider scored a coup in its aggressive competition with rivals Oracle Corp. and Siebel Systems Inc.

John Dillion, who has publicly claimed that the "days of traditional enterprise software are numbered" issued a statement about the deal with Yahoo!.

"The Internet represents the future for the millions of companies out there in need of customer relationship management services like sales force automation," said John Dillon, president and chief executive officer of salesforce.com. "We're thrilled to be able to provide our powerful, scalable and reliable sales force automation service to Yahoo visitors."

In June, Salesforce.com landed a similar deal with Big Blue whereupon the giant firm agreed to offer Salesforce.com's services available to its customers, who for $50 per month would then be able to move their business processes online while cutting time and expenses required to buy, install and maintain traditional small-business solutions.

That deal was praised by one IDC analyst, Raymond Boggs, vice president of small business research.

"IBM's approach of providing a very specific solution to a very specific problem is exactly the way small firms like to start with unfamiliar technology," Boggs said in June. "The collaboration between IBM and Salesforce.com will help pave the way for other Internet-based services that will allow small firms to work more efficiently and compete more effectively."

Just how fast is Salesforce.com's business snowballing? A count done by the company two weeks ago revealed that more than 20,000 organizations have registered for the same service picked up by IBM and Yahoo! -- the online sales force automation service. That number has doubled since lat the company's last count in June when it signed on Big Blue.

"With more than 20,000 registered companies, Salesforce.com has removed any doubt about the value of delivering an enterprise application as an online service," said Denis Pombriant, senior analyst, customer relationship management at Aberdeen Group.

"They are an industry leader with an impressive roster of customers and partners, and a service that clearly resonates with companies both large and small."

Aberdeen Group also said in October that the customer relationship management market, led by such luminaries as Oracle and Siebel Systems, will exceed $24 billion by 2003 and will remain a high-growth IT market.