Required Reading: Cloud Formation
CRM: Looking back, what would you have done differently?
Adler: Marc is always asking everyone, “What do you think?” One time, he printed 250-plus copies, for each of the attendees at a worldwide management meeting—a lot of comments rolled in. Initially this was a challenge, [but] this type of engagement with so many diverse stakeholders is one of the key drivers of Salesforce.com’s success, and employing all of the feedback actually made [the book] much stronger. One thing I’d do differently is use social networking more during the entire writing process as a live test site to see what would resonate most with our audience.We posted some [book-title] options on Salesforce Ideas to have the community weigh in — the responses determined the title of the book.We’ve been using Facebook [www.facebook.com/BehindTheCloud] to engage with our audience—discussing different plays and seeing the community’s responses have been really enlightening.
CRM: Play #24 is “Cultivate Relationships with Select Journalists.” Is that why Benioff chose a reporter to cowrite his book?
Adler: You’d have to ask Marc why he chose a reporter or why I got the job, but I think he values the insight journalists bring. He likes to make connections and expand ideas and put the Salesforce.com story into context. He wanted the story to be reported—not something that just reflected his point of view...to reflect innovative ideas as well as facts. Communication is a huge part of Marc’s job and he believes that the press has tremendous power and influence. He relates to journalists and, quite frankly, likes them.
[Marc sees] journalists [as] people who should be trusted and included. Unlike many companies that separate journalists and try to control what they see, Salesforce.com has always granted open access, allowing journalists to mix [with] everyone involved with the company. As a journalist who once covered Salesforce.com, Marc not only let me shadow him on sales calls and invited me to participate in a yoga class, but he encouraged me to speak with customers and competitors alike.
CRM: How will the company’s first 10 years pave the way for the next 10? How will the next 10 years be different?
Adler: Salesforce.com doesn’t plan for the billion-dollar company it is, but for the $10 billion company it wants to become. As the market leader, it has to be a lot more humble than it was during its days as a scrappy upstart. It has moved away from some of the guerrilla tactics and direct attacks on the competition that once differentiated and defined it. The first 10 years were about building applications and evangelizing software-as-a-service. More recently it’s been focused on platform-as-a-service and allowing [users] to run all their enterprise applications and Web sites in the cloud, catapulting the company beyond its CRM roots and expanding it into a multicategory company. Right now, Salesforce.com is paying attention to a huge shift in customer service [with its Service Cloud 2]. These days, customers search the Web, or reach out to friends on Facebook and Twitter, but typical client-server [contact] center solutions aren’t aware of those community-generated answers. Salesforce.com’s vision for customer service allows [contact] center agents to communicate with customers through every possible channel...and help [them] join the conversation. [See “At Your Service—But Not Yet?” for more on Service Cloud 2.]
CRM: What could have been Play #112?
Adler:We were pretty set on 111 plays as an allusion to Salesforce.com’s 1-1-1 integrated philanthropy model—1 percent equity, 1 percent profits through product donation, 1 percent time back to the community. If we added [one], it would focus on how a business can succeed in any economic climate—maybe it would be called “In Difficulty Find Opportunity.”