Channel technologies, Channel partner programs, Mergers and Acquisitions, Mergers and Acquisitions

Salesforce Negotiating to Buy Channel Partner Sales Platform

Business meeting

Salesforce. com (CRM) is negotiating to buy SteelBrick, which develops Configure, Price, Quote (CPQ) and Billing Apps. SteelBrick also develops SteelBrick for Communities, which helps vendors to drive more sales through their channel partners.

UPDATED, December 23, 2015, 6:15 p.m. ET: Salesforce's buyout of SteelBrick is now official.

Saleforce's potential $600 million buyout of SteelBrick was first reported by The Information. ChannelE2E has not independently confirmed the negotiations.

Marc Benioff
Marc Benioff

In some ways, SteelBrick can potentially compete with a range of channel friendly platforms -- including quoting and proposal software like ConnectWise's Quosal and Aspire Technologies' QuoteWerks. But SteelBrick isn't necessarily targeting the SMB channel market.

While Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff values channel partners, he's been extending his cloud company both vertically and horizontally to attract larger and larger enterprise customers.

SteelBricks could be the next piece in Benioff's expansion plan. According to

"SteelBrick's CPQ, billing, and analytics software help salespeople come up with proposals/prices, manage invoices and collections, and forecast the impact of price quotes on revenue. They complement Salesforce's core Sales Cloud salesforce automation software, and are built on top of Salesforce's cloud app platform."

SeekingAlpha notes that Salesforce invested in SteelBrick earlier this year, while Oracle bought SteelBrick rival BigMachines in 2013.

Data-Driven Sales Automation

Sales quoting and proposal software already is quite popular within the SMB IT channel, where tools like Quosal and QuoteWerks are widely deployed, and niche players like VARStreet have sales quoting capabilities.

But going forward, it's clear that analytics will play a growing role in the way channel sales leaders and IT service providers drive new revenues. In addition to broad platforms like SteelBrick, highly targeted offerings like ChannelEyes' new OPTYX are emerging. OPTYX is a data-driven tool specifically designed to help channel account managers with their sales workflow.

Joe Panettieri

Joe Panettieri is co-founder & editorial director of MSSP Alert and ChannelE2E, the two leading news & analysis sites for managed service providers in the cybersecurity market.