Author: Marc Benioff, Carlye Adler
|Behind The Cloud (2009) is a story of Salesforce.com, one of the fastest-growing and most successful cloud computing and software-as-a-service companies in the whole world. Salesforce started as a small startup, built by two former Oracle executives, Marc Benioff, who wanted to make enterprise software more accessible and affordable.|
If you want to become a billionaire, you can always put in the work. But if you want to become a millionaire, there is no shortcut. Here’s what you can do. A millionaire is a person who has more than a million dollars – it’s quite a lot of money. However, in the world of billionaires – that’s a small change. A billionaire can buy a yacht and go sailing off in the Caribbean while doing some deep-sea fishing. The millionaire, on the other hand, is at the mercy of the world’s political turmoil because his ability to make money is tied directly to the stability of the world economy.
In 1999, Saleforce.com was started by Marc Benioff, a millionaire. Salesforce’s main product is called “Sales Cloud”. It gives companies a simple way to track leads, sales, and customers in one place, making it easier for sales managers, salespeople, and other employees to manage their entire lead generation, customer relationship management, and the processes that took place across various departments. In the years that followed, Salesforce expanded its services rapidly. It has acquired more than 100 companies since 2001.
Salesforce has had many different CEOs over the years. First, there was Marc Benioff, who co-founded Salesforce; Then, there was his co-founder Parker Harris; And now, there’s Mark Hawkins.
Salesforce is now a $50 billion company made up of more than 30,000 employees in over 130 offices around the world. In 2016 alone, Salesforce generated nearly $8 billion in revenue and expects to generate $10 billion in revenue by the year 2020.
Behind The Cloud Key Points
Try to focus on your end consumer while marketing
Let’s start with a question: why did the company choose to go down this path? The answer, quite simply, is because they found it effective. As a way to fuel its user acquisition, Salesforce created a reader rating system and an editorial program within its platform. It went so far as to hire an editor-in-chief and a staff of journalists to identify influential bloggers and reach out to them. But this innovation isn’t just limited to B2B companies. It’s a concept that many consumer brands are now adopting because it drives even more meaningful interactions with the brand.
Before his stint at Salesforce, Rajeev Behera was the marketing manager at Karma. Karma was a consumer brand that focused on providing customers with free mobile phone services by harnessing idle cellular data from their phones. To increase word-of-mouth awareness, Behera set up a program where Karma users could receive free phone upgrades by referring friends to the service. In the end, the program generated 400 percent more organic growth than their previous customer referral program.
The only way to become a billion-dollar business is if people talk about you. A lot. And not just your product, but you too. Your brand. Offline events arrived organically out of the company’s interest in pursuing them. Salesforce started getting involved with the Olympics 10 years ago when they sponsored the US Olympic team. They built a special platform called “the virtual torch relay” that let fans run along with the actual torch as it made its way across the country. They continued to support these Olympic teams, and in 2010, Salesforce purchased an entire winter Olympics village.
Stick to your idea for the fastest growth of the company
Benioff was one of the original developers of the first commercially available relational database management system, Oracle. His biggest feat was when he created Salesforce — a web-based customer relationship management (CRM) application — in 1999. He started with only a handful of employees. Today the company has over 25,000 employees worldwide. Salesforce is currently valued at $48 billion and has been growing exponentially ever since its inception. Benioff said he gets his inspiration for Salesforce from a wide variety of places including books, movies, and even his children.
Relating to Benioff’s story, I think it’s safe to say that he stuck to his idea and thought big when building his company. Benioff found success by removing any distractions that may have prevented him from doing what it takes to achieve his goal: creating the best CRM software in the market.
If you’re thinking of building your own company, don’t get side-tracked with ideas that may bring you short-term success but will ultimately take you off course. Instead, think big and focus on what it takes to not just build a successful company but to make it go viral.
In a recent interview, Marc Benioff shared his story of building Salesforce.com. According to Benioff, there were dozens of companies at the time trying to do what he was trying to do. However, he said he didn’t focus too much on them. He said he was single-minded and focused on building the world’s premier CRM (customer relationship management) company and nothing was going to stop him.
Respect other cultures when expanding globally
That’s probably not a mistake you’ll make, but it is a mistake everyone else is making, especially those of us in the U.S. When we go international, we typically do it with literal translations. To be fair, it’s hard not to do that. Our English words are so simple and descriptive, that it’s easy to just pick one, shove it into another language and use it as is. Staying engaged with the culture of your customers is important if you want them to respond to your marketing.
A few years ago, Salesforce began expanding into Europe and it had a choice to make. Should they open up offices in London, France, or Germany? All three of these locations offered Salesforce a great deal, but London won out. You see, London ranked first for trip-making (people who visited over 15 days). London also ranked first for page views on the Salesforce blog. The biggest factor though was probably the language, as 47% of the world speaks English.
They didn’t even think about the broader cultural implications that would come with picking a country like Ireland as their first international location. Ireland was deeply religious in a way that most of the world wasn’t. The 12.5% tax rate would be an unthinkable move in most other countries.
The story is old but it’s a good one, and it’s worth retelling if you’re considering going global anytime soon. Salesforce decided to retract its presence in Ireland, but not because it wasn’t profitable. It was successful enough that they were looking to open offices in places like London and Amsterdam. However, Salesforce struggled to make inroads abroad because they didn’t spend time understanding what goes into success for companies outside of North America. They didn’t learn the deeper context of their decision to go global and it cost them everything.
Behind The Cloud Quotes
“One idea alone is a tactic, but if it can be executed several different ways, it becomes a great strategy.” –Marc Benioff
“You must always examine what’s working, evolve your ideas, and change the way you do things.” –Marc Benioff
Behind The Cloud Review
No one can build a million-dollar business. But to learn these lessons from this book is important for the mindset. There are many strategies that we can apply in our startups. We must read about the billionaires’ experiences to know about how they made their decisions and how they won the world. This can help us in certain situations, you can never think of. Recommended.
To whom I would recommend Behind The Cloud Summary?
- A manager doesn’t know how to run B2B.
- A marketing manager who is confused about whether to market online or offline.
- Anyone who wants to go abroad for business.