It has been revealed that Salesforce, a world leader in customer relationship management (CRM) solutions, acquired Steelbrick just before the offices shut down for the Christmas weekend. Steelbrick is a quote-to-cash vendor and its acquisition by Salesforce suggests that the CRM sector is about to change. It also indicates that the CRM firm has adjusted its sights to include smaller businesses.
The CRM sector grew thanks to the demand from sales teams for software to help with outbound prospecting and also to deal with the customer service aspect of inbound traffic. Over the years there have been a plethora of additional applications and automotive processes added to CRM solutions to deal with modern business. One of these is the configure-price-quote process (CPQ), which provides sales personnel with a way of constructing a quote proposal for buyers, including various components, features and add-ons. This leads to other similar processes such as order management and billing, all of which are deemed quote-to-cash operations. A recent rise in demand for billing capabilities via a subscription model means that quote-to-cash solutions are becoming far more popular.
As a result, the CRM market has now all but swallowed up and taken over the CPQ sector and an increasing number of Salesforce clients rely on third-party add-ons to align the core CRM with CPQ and billing operations. Once an occasional addition, these add-ons have now become commonplace − so much so that Salesforce has deemed it necessary to buy Steelbrick at a substantial $300m (£202m) price tag.
Another important point of the latest acquisition is that Salesforce will be offering something new to the small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) market. It has been suggested that Salesforce took its eye off this sector for a long time, instead choosing to focus on large enterprise deals during the past few years. Now, however, a combined CRM and CPQ tool that can be marketed to SMEs will, no doubt, gain a lot of interest.
Salesforce seems to have learned from the past. It previously acquired SME helpdesk Assistly and promptly rebranded the company as Desk.com; however, as the solution still runs on an individual data centre, the integration and upgrade pathway with other Salesforce solutions is less than satisfactory. Steelbrick runs entirely on Salesforce’s own architecture, meaning that this new and more rounded offering is likely to find large appeal for those in the SME market needing an innovate, simply and easy-to-use tool that can be aligned with other solutions.
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