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Salesforce.com grabs deal with Yahoo

The company plans to announce an exclusive deal with Yahoo's Small Business Center, as it tries to catch up with market leader Siebel Systems.

Salesforce.com has struck a deal with Yahoo, as it tries to catch up with its rivals in the sales-force automation services market.

The company next week is expected to announce that Yahoo has selected it as the only provider of sales-force automation services for its small-business customers.

Financial details of the deal were not disclosed.

The deal is the latest in an ongoing battle between Oracle, UpShot, Salesforce and market leader Siebel to add customers and gain more recognition in the sales-force automation (SFA) market.

"This is an important deal for Salesforce because it gives them a lot of exposure to the kinds of companies they want to target," said Dennis Pombriant, an analyst at Aberdeen Group. With the Yahoo deal "and the earlier alliance with IBM they are clearly accelerating their push in the market by getting more companies on board to use their service."

Under the terms of the agreement, San Francisco-based Salesforce will offer its subscription service on Yahoo's Small Business Center, allowing visitors to track leads and customer-account information, develop reports and compare their sales performance with that of competitors, the company said in a statement. Salesforce and Yahoo will also co-market and promote each other's products and services.

Oracle is the most recent entry in the market. In August, the database giant rolled out OracleSalesOnline.com as an alternative to UpShot, Salesforce and Sales.com, a venture spun off by front-office software leader /0-1007-200-1726212.html>Siebel.

Oracle surprised the sector when it chose to give business customers its core SFA software free of charge. The company is charging fees for additional components such as sales compensation software based on a pay-per-use model.

Although the companies did not release details on what Yahoo visitors will pay for the service, Salesforce customers usually pay about $50 a month for the first five users and $50 a month per additional user.

Launched /0-1007-200-1555541.html> in early February, Salesforce was founded by ex-Oracle executive Marc Benioff. The company is backed by some big names in the technology industry, including Larry Ellison and KLA-Tencor founder Bob Anderson, who both sit on the company's board. In June, the company asked Ellison to resign from its board after Oracle launched its new rival service-OracleSalesOnline.com.

Also in June, Salesforce teamed with IBM to provide small businesses with the hardware, computer support and software for Web-based operations.

Salesforce's service also includes information such as news, stock and financial updates, and services including gift giving, directions and restaurant listings.

Halsey Minor, chairman of CNET Networks, which publishes News.com, is an investor in Salesforce.com.