Through the strength and vision of its leader Marc Benioff, Salesforce was the first enterprise-oriented cloud provider to achieve the $3 billion revenue benchmark. He also has achieved the feat of persuading 70 percent of the Fortune 100 to use his software. These five principles have driven Salesforce’s success and can drive the success of almost any company doing business in the software-as-a-service industry:
- Social Media Is Business Media. By 2012, 70 percent of American businesses were already using social networking as a marketing and customer service channel. Turning a traditional vendor-client relationship into a social media friendship helps companies build trust and loyalty with customers, ultimately driving revenue upward.
- Flexibility Is the Only Option. It’s easier than ever for customers and competitors to change, which means that every company must be flexible. The ability to change as a company grows comes from the strength and acceptance of its senior leadership. Great leaders can sell a change to the entire team, get buy-in, and execute the change.
- Great Products Drive Great Results. Great products aren’t just ones that customers user on a daily basis. They’re ones that their users love enough to form a personal connection with, discuss in their spare time, and send to their friends and colleagues.
- Create Community. When a company has a great product, it has the opportunity to build a community around it. Communities help lock users into a platform, since they become connected to the support and applications that come from the large grouping of users.
- Discuss 300 Pound Elephants. The SaaS industry has two types of competition. Not only do SaaS apps compete with one another, but they also have to compete with old-guard traditional applications. SaaS companies should be comfortable discussing their competition and why and how their cloud-based applications are better. When a company focuses on its strength in a competitive analysis, it doesn’t just generate sales: it also drives prospects into the community.