With Help From Ex-Oracle Salespeople, Marc Benioff Is About To Close A Huge $US80 Million Deal, Analyst Says

Marc Benioff Salesforce.comDellSalesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff

Looks like Marc Benioff’s strategy of hiring Oracle’s former top sales guys is paying off, says Wall Street analyst Pat Walravens.

His company, Salesforce.com, is on the verge of booking a huge $US80 million, six-year deal with a transportation company, sources have told Walravens, director of technology research for JMP Securities.

“Some signs that the new sales leadership at Salesforce is delivering. Salesforce.com hasn’t had a deal this big for two years,” Walravens told us.

The analyst also talked about the deal in a research note to investors, saying that if it materialises, it would be the biggest deal since Salesforce.com signed State Farm for about $US100 million in early 2012.

Sources also told Walravens that Salesforce.com has closed, or is close to it, three more $US10 million+ deals.

Interestingly, Walravens’ report comes just as Salesforce announced that its head of enterprise sales, Blair Crump, has resigned. He’s been given a $US222,115 severance check and remains eligible for his bonuses.

Typically, when the head of sales departs that’s a bad sign. But in this case, it likely has more to do with Benioff’s other top sales guy, Keith Block.

Block had previously worked for Oracle, but left after some trash-talk messages surfaced where he said some not-so-nice things about Oracle President Mark Hurd and the acquisition of Sun Microsystems.

A year after leaving Oracle, he joined Salesforce. He’s been helping Salesforce grow its enterprise sales team ever since, luring some of them away from Oracle, such as hiring well-known Oracle sales guy Tony Fernicola last August.

As Walravens writes in his research note:

“Mr. Crump’s resignation has been expected since Keith Block joined in June and brought his team with him, including Tony Fernicola, whose title of President Global Enterprise Sales was nearly identical to that of Mr. Crump.”

Indeed, just last month, Benioff publicly praised Block, saying:

I think the biggest mistake Mark Hurd ever made was letting Keith Block leave Oracle because he’s probably the best sales executives the enterprise software industry has ever seen.

Salesforce.com declined to comment on these deals. It will report earnings at the end of February, so we’ll learn more about its revenues then.

In the meantime, JMP maintains an “outperform” rating, the equivalent of a “buy” rating, and suggested the stock is worth $US62. As of Thursday, the stock has been trading just above $US62.

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