A pioneer of cloud computing, Marc Benioff revolutionized the software industry in the early 2000s as chairman and CEO of Salesforce.com. He realized that enterprise software could be much better and cheaper. Of course, the solution was leveraging the cloud.
In the process, his “1-1-1 model” also pioneered a new model of integrated corporate philanthropy: Contribute 1 percent of product, 1 percent of equity and 1 percent of employee hours back to the community.
Here are the 10 success lessons from Marc Benioff – “Cloud Computing Pioneer” for entrepreneurs,
1. No risk, no reward
Don’t be afraid of sweeping, eye-catching statements. No one expected ‘The end of software’ to come true in 1999 when Marc made it his catch phrase. Now cloud-computing is killing on-premise software.
Same thing happened in February 2010 when Marc wrote The Facebook Imperative. Now social is seeped into almost every business department.
2. Be inspired by what you do
If you’ve seen Benioff speak, you know the infectious enthusiasm he brings to a room. The same enthusiasm permeates Salesforce, and it’s a big part of what inspires the companies many employees, partners, and especially customers to take on new challenges, year after year.
3. Quiet the critics with bottom line results
Under promise and over deliver. Marc may be the maestro of marketing, but he never makes promises he knows he can’t exceed. You can see that in his quarterly conference calls with analysts, and you see it when the company announces new capabilities that – eventually – wow his customers.
Never let your customers or investors feel you’ve let them down. Clearly set expectations and set them to achievable levels. Then race to beat the goals you’ve stated.
4. Trust is everything
Don’t underestimate the power of marketing. Salesforce.com is a marketing machine that Marc Benioff never turns off. At the same time, Marc never confuses slideware with marketing. Customers will never trust you if you don’t deliver on the promises you make – and Marc knows that trust is too valuable to ever squander on empty hype.
5. Business is social
In 2012, an estimated 70% of companies have adopted social networking as a tool for marketing and customer service. In October 2012, Benioff was quoted as stating that social media is the single biggest driver of business for the SaaS industry.
In his words, “the social revolution is a trust revolution.” Benioff is a firm believer that treating your customers like friends is key to building trust among your prospects and clients.
6. Products are people, too
Benioff is dedicated to making products that people love enough to use on a daily basis, and more importantly, refer to their friends. In his view, building trust among your consumers isn’t just about having your social media manager connect through Twitter and Facebook. It’s about building products that people really connect to.
7. Stay nimble
Part of Salesforce’s original vision was to disrupt traditional, on-premise enterprise software by replacing CD-roms with customer relationship management (CRM) delivered via the cloud. Today, that same drive to disrupt pervades the company — but getting a 25,000-person company to move like a startup is a different challenge altogether.
8. Don’t ignore your competition
Benioff is known for being slightly confrontational at times. In presentations and interviews, he’s not afraid to speak frankly about Oracle. He describes Salesforce users as being a “revolution against the old guard.” Your prospects want to know how your product is different and better than other options available in the SaaS industry.
Let them know by addressing specifically what you have to offer, with the intention of inspiring prospects to join your community.
9. Know when to delegate
Larry Ellison, the founder of software giant Oracle and a mentor to Benioff early in his career, describes him as “a natural manager.” Walking the fine line between management and micro-management — between providing vision and being overbearing — is something only the best managers achieve.
10. Persistence pays
Innovation isn’t just about coming up with the big vision. Successful innovation also depends heavily on the ability to execute — and a lot of that comes from persistence. And despite Benioff’s energy and drive, patience is also one of his strengths. As Benioff says, “When I get something in my head, it’s hard for me to just let it go.”