#79: 3 Lessons From Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff

Media Thumbnail
  • 0.5
  • 1
  • 1.25
  • 1.5
  • 1.75
  • 2
This is a podcast episode titled, #79: 3 Lessons From Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff. The summary for this episode is: If you liked this episode, we bet that you’ll love our blog content. blog.drift.com/#subscribe Subscribe to never miss a post & join the 20,000+ other pros committed to getting better every day. ----- Marc Benioff is the founder and CEO of Salesforce. You know that. But have you read his book about starting and scaling Salesforce? It's called Behind the Cloud: The Untold Story of How Salesforce.com Went from Idea to Billion-Dollar Company-and Revolutionized an Industry -- and today we're breaking 3 lessons from the book and spitting them back to you Seeking Wisdom style. Come say hey on Instagram.com/heydrift. Here’s how you can support Seeking Wisdom if you’re a fan of the podcast: 1. Get your tickets to Hypergrowth using the promo code SEEKINGWISDOM at hypergrowth.drift.com 2. Subscribe on your favorite podcast app. 3. Leave us a five-star review. Here's how: bit.ly/5-Stars-Only.

DG: What's up everybody. This episode of Seeking Wisdom is sponsored by Hypergrowth, we don't really have a sponsor because this is a company podcast, we don't need to have a sponsor, but I want to take a minute and tell you about Hypergrowth. Hypergrowth is a one day event that's going to bring together leaders who have built brands, sparked movements and found a way to unlock unprecedented growth. When we were brainstorming ideas for the conference, the one that DC kept going back to was Hypergrowth, It's all about Hypergrowth and that's exactly what we're going to bring in Boston Monday, September 25th. And even though we're focused on marketing and sales here at Drift, we're going to go behind the scenes across a bunch of different areas, so of course, marketing and sales, but there's people from art, health, fitness, and everybody's going to be talking about the same thing. And that's how to really transform your life and your business this year, it's not going to be about six different ways to set up Facebook ads, it's not going to be 41 email, subject lines that are going to get you more opens, it's all about personal and professional growth. And I got to tell you, I wanted to come on here and do a little quick ad spot to tell you about who we have so far. We have, of course, DC, the guy who sits across from me on this podcast every week is going to be there, we have Nastia Liukin and she's a five- time Olympic medalist, Brogan Graham, the founder of the November Project, Ben Von Wong, who's a viral artist, whose stuff has been seen by 30 million people from one freaking video is incredible. Lauren Vacacrello, She's the VP of marketing at Box, Joanna Lord, the CMO at ClassPass, Casey Winters, he ran the growth team at both Pinterest and Grubhub, Kristen Habacht, the VP of sales at Trello, our guy, Mike Volpe the CMO at Cybereason and former CMO at HubSpot, also our guy also on this podcast, Mike Triano former COO at Actifio, Carol Meyer is the COO of Rapid7, Joe Chernov the VP of marketing from InsightSquared, Sangram who's going to be on this podcast in a couple of weeks, the CMO of Terminus, Kevin O'Malley the VP of marketing at SalesLoft. The list goes on and on and on. It's going to be amazing day. And we have a special offer for Seeking Wisdom listeners, because this is truly the most engaged community that we have and we want to bring everybody who listens to this podcast here in person, so if you use the promo code Seeking Wisdom, you can get your tickets for just 99 bucks. That's crazy, trust me, I'm the guy, my head is on the line right here for this conference and we're giving these tickets away basically for 99 bucks. So that's a$ 600 discount. All you have to do is go to hypergrowth. drift. com or just go to drift. com and there's a little banner at the top, click on Hypergrowth, get your tickets, use the promo code, punch it in right before you check out Seeking Wisdom, you'll get your tickets for just now 99 Bucks. The response has been crazy, I think we're going to run out of tickets in the next month or two, so let's go, grab yours a time is now, 99 bucks and a that's enough rambling about Hypergrowth, but I'm excited, all right. So that's our ad spot. Let's get into today's episode. Peace. All right, I hit record on this.

DC: What? You hit record?

DG: Yeah, I hit record. We're recording.

Speaker 3: Are you sure?

DG: Yep.

Speaker 3: Okay.

DG: Triple checking. All right,

DC: Let's go.

DG: So today on Seeking Wisdom, let me drinking a little liqueur, how you say it?

DC: I don't know, but they still haven't sent me a case of Seltzer.

DG: Unbelievable.

DC: Slip it.

DG: The amount of that stuff that we consume here. So today on Seeking Wisdom, we're going to talk about three lessons from one of our all time favorite books, all time favorite books.

DC: What?

DG: Behind The Cloud, it's called Behind The cloud the-

DC: I didn't know this.

DG: Untold story of how salesforce. com-

DC: That's why you were re-reading.

DG: Went from idea to billion dollar company and revolutionized in industry.

DC: That's the title.

DG: Yes. That is a title, you said-

DC: That's a proper tittle.

DG: You said that's why I was what?

DC: That's why you were re- reading it, you posted something that you were re- reading this book.

DG: Yes.

DC: Okay. Now I get it.

DG: So a couple of things, this podcast has been amazing, but there's a whole other level that we need to unlock and so I realize it's my duty as the host of this show, you're the-

DC: As all things.

DG: Talent, I'm the host.

DC: He Runs the show, I don't know what we're doing.

DG: I could do a better job, really going deep and prepping and if we do a good job prepping, we can turn it into a blog post and a video and all that stuff, so-

DC: Yeah, we've been going like this levels and now we've been like this.

DG: Yeah, I know, it's flat crosstalk, it's flat-

DC: And we need to go up another level.

DG: We need to go up another level. So the growth has been a little flat, so I don't know what you're doing out there and actually it hasn't been-

DC: It has been.

DG: We just, we flat here, if you live in DCS, let me tell you something, if you live in DC's world, double digit growth is flat.

DC: Yeah. Amen.

DG: That's all you need to know.

DC: Amen.

DG: All right, so there's so much gold in this book, but I wanted to make sure that we stick to one of our favorite principles, which is the rule of threes.

DC: Okay.

DG: So when we get back, you hit me up the other day and you're like," We got to get back to doing book reviews."

DC: Yeah.

DG: "We got to get more guests on the podcast."

DC: Uh- huh(affirmative). And they're coming.

DG: I said," Totally, we have some heat for you." I'm going to give you a sneak peek two weeks from now.

DC: Easy.

DG: Two weeks from now, this man started a company that you have heard of called kayak. com.

DC: Yep.

DG: His name is Paul English, you and him go way back.

DC: Way back.

DG: Right? And he's going to come hang out and get on the podcast.

DC: Oh yeah. That's going to be entertaining if you don't know Paul, it's going to be fireworks.

DG: It's going to be a little firework show. So anyway, we're going to talk about three lessons from this book in the meantime, and there's three things. So there's a million lessons, this is one of our favorite books, go check it out, we might even give some away after this.

DC: We should give some away for people who hit us up on Instagram story.

DG: It has to be Instagram stories.

DC: That's it.

DG: Hey Drift.

DC: Yep, that's it.

DG: That's it, I love it.

DC: That's it, done.

DG: Instagram stories, it's where it's at. And so there's three things I pulled out from this book that I want to dissect with you in particular, if I had another person, maybe I'd ask something different, but there's three things that I want to pull out. Number one, we're going to talk about why a brand is your company's most important asset. Number two, we're going to talk about why marketing is everybody's job. And number three, we're going to talk about why you have to keep your standards high as your company grows. All right. So you know Salesforce, right? Everybody, if you're listening to this podcast, you probably know Salesforce, but if you're haven't then this book will be required reading and the easiest way to get it is, we'll let you know. So, number one lesson out of this book, why a brand is your company's most important asset? Before I even go into my notes, how would you answer that? Why is a brand?

DC: I was just looking out for one of my tweets here.

DG: Oh.

DC: Oh yeah. Okay, I got-

DG: What did you got?

DC: 84 likes on it, 29 retweets.

DG: Show off.

DC: Not showing off.

DG: Love it.

DC: That's just a standard level.

DG: Okay. Did Mark Andreessen like that?

DC: No.

DG: He's back. He has a crosstalk stuff yet.

DC: P Mark inaudible.

DG: What does your tweet say?

DC: So my tweet said," Product based differentiation is going away, act accordingly." Right? And so that one got a bunch of likes and retweets and that's at the foundation of what you're talking about right here with brands and what Benioff has done so well for so long, which is to try to build this brand Halo around the company that goes beyond the product, right? Beyond a CRM, which is what they started with.

DG: Totally. And the reason like this is, so in the book, they were competing against a company called Siebel at the time, right? And on paper, they made the same thing, right? They both made the CRM.

DC: Yep. One was on prem, one was in the cloud.

DG: Did you ever have to use Siebel?

DC: A little bit.

DG: A little-

DC: What are trying inaudible.

DG: No. I'm just trying to say-

DC: What's going on here?

DG: I'm trying to show that your OG-

DC: DHD and Amy are in here, come on now.

DG: That's okay. It's okay. So the point is like, the whole point about the product based differentiation is like, if you just try to compete on features today, you're toast.

DC: Toast.

DG: Toast. And so the number one thing that Salesforce did was they started this movement, right? This is how you fight against the battle.

DC: Yep. And so they were phenomenal about building this brand Halo around the company and so we think about brands so much, and we write about the reason to invest in brand because we think more so than when Salesforce started now, they were starting in the software category with being in the cloud versus being on prem.

DG: They fought and they were the first company in this new category.

DC: New category. And so they had this early adopter advantage on the cloud, now we're all building SAS companies, including Drift at a time where there are hundreds, if not thousands of competitors in any given category and in that world, we need to move beyond the idea of product based differentiation, which worked for that first wave, which was Salesforce and maybe even a little bit with the second wave and now in this third wave, we need to move hard into the brand differentiation story and like, why do people want to, why do they care about your company?

DG: And you replied somebody in that tweet, I remember seeing it and it was like, someone's like," What do you mean by act accordingly?" And you said something about like a" P& G and Tied."

DC: Yeah. P&G and Tide were selling coffee or laundry detergent now and so like, you got to brand accordingly and so you have to invest in things that most software companies don't want to invest in, which are like your brand from a marketing standpoint, from a messaging and voice standpoint, your customer experience from everything from how your product works. So user experience is not just a design thing, right? It's everything about how you interact with something. And I was in the midst of making up a slide.

DG: Okay.

DC: DG doesn't believe.

DG: I do you sent me, you've been sending me a lot lately.

DC: Okay.

DG: It must mean I'm slipping, but.

DC: Yeah. And in it I was going to show a visual that hammers home this case here, and it showed like, okay, first wave of software, this was when product based differentiation mattered and it showed a picture of the home brew computing club and it showed Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs.

DG: Yep.

DC: And then it showed Bill Gates back in the old days when he's laying on the table from that old PC and those are when those guys ruled. And then you look at all the way you fast forward today, and what is today's products and companies look like? They look like Airbnb, they look like Whole Foods, they look like Nike, they look like a totally different animal, even those companies in the software category.

DG: And the crazy part is and this is what I think a lot of people don't understand, even if you do make the best product or make the best feature, we as consumers have just been conditioned to be so skeptical because advertising and marketing was just like, this is the best, this is the best. Nobody believes it.

DC: Yep.

DG: So you can't just compete on saying like," No, but our thing is fast."

DC: Exactly. Because we've gone through the second way, which is to build the factory part. So now, because we know how to build the factories and we're efficient at building factories, that means we can copy anything. So back then, when Wozniak or Jobs were building things, it was almost impossible for anyone to catch up and copy them fast enough because it was so hard to develop that. And now you fast forward, whatever you build, someone somewhere in the world can copy that feature or product or physical thing overnight.

DG: Right. And that's why you talk about, you've said on this podcast a bunch, and just even like internally to our team at Drift, that you have to have a brand that's an emotional moat, you have to have that connection. So the thing that Salesforce did, which is, I think, one of our favorite things of all time is they built, they created something bigger than the software and that was this whole movement around no software, they created this whole campaign around the end of software.

DC: I wonder if he got that from NoMore-

DG: From NoMoreForms, that's where he got that idea? Yeah.

DC: I think he traveled into the future.

DG: I think he did.

DC: Formed NoMoreForms than went back.

DG: Yeah. He's like," One day there's going to be a bald brown guy and he's going to make a logo-

DC: NoForms.

DG: "That is NoForms." I think that's a-

DC: That's a good idea.

DG: It's a good idea. So the story in the book, which you should go check out is like, Benioff took it to his brand guy and they came back with this no software logo and the best part was actually not even the logo it inspired like the number to call Salesforce, if you were a Salesforce customer, you'd have to dial 1800- NO- SOFTWARE.

DC: That's a G.

DG: And that just cemented that everything and what it did is something that you're obsessed with right now is this brand archetypes, it gave people like a cause to rally around.

DC: Yep.

DG: They rallied around this mission of like the old way of doing things is broken, it's too expensive, it's a pain in the, so we are the hero, the old way of doing it, is the villain.

DC: Totally. And so I think in brand archetypes, they were clearly the hero and I think they did an amazing job of that. I don't know if the Salesforce today holds up to what they did in the old days.

DG: No,.

DC: But it's an interesting case study to look at them in the early days.

DG: Yeah. So anyway, back in the day, this campaign was so diabolical is the right word, they had an ad that was a fighter jet and a little prop plane, the fighter jet was Salesforce and a little prop plane was Siebel, it was an ad and it said," The end of software." It was an ad that you had to pay for, but one of the local papers thought it was such a genius marketing campaign that they printed it in the front page of the business section.

DC: Amazing.

DG: Didn't have to pay for that.

DC: Amazing.

DG: That's what you get.

DC: DG when are we going to-

DG: That's why a lot of people were mad about the Slacks dear Microsoft letter, but at the end of the day, look where that was, look where that got them. So that's number one, that's-

DC: I should've published my dear HubSpot letter.

DG: Oh, you should, well now, it might be one day, one day we might have to number two, so number one is all about brand. Number two is why marketing is everybody's job? This, you might as well have written this one.

DC: You sure I didn't write that?

DG: inaudible.

DC: I think he did come into the future.

DG: Benioff?

DC: Yeah and got these.

DG: Talk about this one.

DC: Yeah. Marketing being everyone's job and so it's just like customer experiences everyone's job?

DG: Yeah.

DC: I don't think those things are departments. I think everyone has to feel like they're carrying the brand forward because every interaction, just like the customer experience in terms of marketing, every interaction that someone has with someone from your company is a marketing opportunity and so it's everything about the shirts you have, the way you talk about the product, how you can describe it and something that Mark did, which I don't know if you'll talk about there is that he had little business card, you have that?

DG: Yeah because I knew this was right up your alley.

DC: I love it.

DG: So the Benioff thing was they created a laminated card, a marketing cheat sheet for everyone in the company.

DC: We need those.

DG: We do need those. That's why I wrote it down because I was like, and this is why I started re- reading this book I was like," Man, two years later, it was first time I read this, there's so many things we can pull out today." But his whole thing was like, everyone needs to be on the same page because in order to really build a world- class company to sell, to hire, to build, everyone had to know the why. And so what he did is they, they had their marketing communications and PR team make a laminated card, very simple and they put it on every single person's desk. And they also had for specifically customer facing employees, so a customer success and sales, they had them all go through a certification and so you had to be-

DC: Come on now.

DG: Certified on how to pitch the business, that was part of the new hire training and he said like, not only did that make them more effective at communicating, but they also were more confident about like," Oh, well, how are you different than this company?" Like-

DC: Which is Drifts certifications.-

DG: It's a great idea.

DC: Amy's saying yes.

DG: But the laminated card, I just think it goes back to the whole, like the experience is everything, from how a candidate comes up the elevator and comes up with the Drift-

DC: I'm obsessed with these details. Yeah. So I think recruiting is a-

DG: Totally.

DC: Thing, so how do people, exactly what you're saying, how do people enter the office? What does the office look like? crosstalk interactive?

DG: One of the things you've told us internally is, before interviews and after interviews, you're like," Look, even if we don't make an offer to this person, we need to have that person leaving this office like,'Damn, that company's awesome, I had a great experience.'"

DC: Exactly. And hopefully, maybe one day I'll work there.

DG: Or by Drift.

DC: Or by Drift.

DG: Yeah.

DC: Perfect.

DG: But that's why you feel that way.

DC: Yeah. And so they can go off and tell people about this amazing experience that they had. And what's great about that is that it's, most people don't care about those details, so it's easy to stand out if you can do those things, it's hard to do it everyday of just like any other service like if you worked in a restaurant, it's hard to have good service every day, but if you can do it, then it becomes legendary.

DG: You hit on something that's really important and I think we take for granted a lot the details.

DC: Yep.

DG: Because I remember a couple of months ago, you go to a lot of conferences, speak at a lot of things and usually the experience is kind of shitty. You came back from one and you brought me the speaker list, you brought me the badge, you brought me the list of everything because you're like," Write this shit down, this is the playbook, that experience was unbelievable." And that a literal example of when you nail the experience-

DC: Oh, yeah.

DG: What happens after.

DC: It's worth talking about and we can still remember that story.

DG: Yeah. All right. So that's number two. Number three, the last one is, keep your standards high as you grow. I noticed-

DC: I don't know anything about this one.

DG: You don't? This is at the top of your list right now. The company has grown a lot over the last year, what part of this speaks to you, keeping your standards high as we grow, other than the whole thing?

DC: The whole thing, everything about it. I'd say this is the one that I am most...

DG: Obsessed.

DC: Most obsessed and painful to be around because I want to, Amy's trying not to nod her head, but crosstalk I see her eyes nodding.

DG: What's the painful part? What is painful?

DC: It's hard to get critical feedback all the time, so if you creating something it's hard to always, for someone to make you feel like that it's never good enough, so that's painful. And so I'm always pushing us to raise our standards to be better and that's hard, it sounds good and the outcome is good, but to deal with it everyday, it's hard. I had to call Afilies this morning, he was co- founder here and he likes to say that I'm a robot, that I'm emotionless and that he has to be the emotions for Drift.

DG: And what did you say to that?

DC: I said, that's true.

DG: That's why you guys are a good couple.

DC: Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely true. Because I'm constantly more better, keep-

DG: More.

DC: More better, yeah.

DG: Like a DG's-

DC: Yeah, more better. Keeping those standards high. We have a new person when we have a whole bunch of new people coming into the team and I was communicating with him this weekend and I was saying probably the hardest part about you coming here is the relentlessness that I bring around standards because I don't think, I think you've done amazing things in the past, but probably haven't been pushed this hard this often and that's basically how I am and how we are as a company, because we have this audacious mission that we're trying to accomplish and it's going to take that level of detail.

DG: And yeah, it all goes back to details, right? And so the sum all those parts, so these were, there's really four values that Salesforce in this book, they looked for with each new hires, I kind of speaks to each one of these things. They look for people who had massive accomplishment and energy, they look for employees who have entrepreneurial drive, they looked for people who are scrappy and they look for people who have something to prove and on the-

DC: We have almost all those.

DG: Yeah and it's very similar to our hiring checklist. And on the something to prove point, he said, there was early offsite where they had all the execs there and they went around the room and they had people raise their hand for, raise your hand if you were a first- generation college graduate in your family and there was over a third of the people in the room, which is a lot, raised their hand and said that. And he said that's important because those are all people who felt like they had something to prove and he wanted to have that mix and the company as they continue to grow.

DC: And the the notebook.

DG: We talked about that a lot.

DC: Yeah.

DG: You look for like," All right, tell me about a shitty job or."

DC: Yeah. Which is a requirement now, we didn't have this requirement before, but Keith who runs recruiting for us, I have this requirement now that anyone that he brings in, going forward has to have had at least one shitty job.

DG: I love that. We're going to crosstalk do an episode on that.

DC: Okay.

DG: That's a whole topic. All right. So that's a wrap. I'm going to wrap this up. Did I miss anything from this book that you want to let the people know about?

DC: That you need to hit us up on, Hey Drift on Instagram-

DG: That's right.

DC: For your free copy of this book.

DG: That's right.

DC: If you haven't read it. I've read this at least three times.

DG: Yeah, I think-

DC: Maybe four or five times at this point.

DG: We talk about business books a lot, this to me is the one that's worth re- reading almost every year.

DC: So re- read it while you're leaving a six star review, so you will-

DG: You can do both.

DC: You can do both. Yeah, it's hard for some people to understand, but look, you could be typing like this-

DG: Yes.

DC: Leaving a six star review while reading the book or listening to the book, there's an audio version of this book if you want to listen to it, leave a six star review, shout out Amy, shout at DHD, give Dave a little bit of love this week.

DG: I don't want it.

DC: Okay, he doesn't want it, that's good.

DG: All I want you to, here's the real, I'm going to be real with you for a second. We talked a lot about our conference Hypergrowth.

DC: Yep. Yeah, we are.

DG: It's getting real. When this house is going to be packed and I'm not just saying like, if you're on this podcast and you're like,"I know, I think I should go to Hypergrowth, I'm not sure." You better get your ticket because those things are going.

DC: Let's go.

DG: And they're going fast. The house is going to be packed. We might be running a flash, a little flash special this week if you stick with us crosstalk.

DC: Promo code.

DG: That's all you got to do.

DC: If you come and you're from the show, you get to hang out with DG.

DG: Yeah.

DC: I'll say, hi.

DG: DC will be there.

DC: I'll be there.

DG: Actually, we're thinking about doing Seeking Wisdom live, so-

DC: What?

DG: Yeah. So you might have to be there crosstalk.

DC: Have notes.

DG: You will not have to have notes. Do you ever have notes? Your phone is not even facing up.

DC: No, it's facing down.

DG: All right.

DC: Got to face it down and show that, look at that Drifts sticker right there.

DG: It's pretty hot.

DC: Boom.

DG: It's pretty hot. All right.

DC: Let's go.

DG: Six stars only.

DC: Six stars only. Seeking Wisdom promo code, hit us up on Instagram, don't forget about us. September 25th be here. You're going to get the party, DHD, you're going to be at our conference?

DHD: Yes.

DG: Yes, she is.

DC: DHD is going to be in the conference.

DG: Amy is going to be running around with a headset that day.

DC: Headset.

DG: Yeah.

DC: Yeah, clipboard, all that,

DG: I need somebody to the green room right now.

DC: Okay. If you want to meet these people, which are Amy and DHD far more interesting than myself or DG.

DG: Please.

DC: Far more interesting.

DG: Please and hang out with us.

DC: Please hang out.

DG: More fun.

DC: See you.


If you liked this episode, we bet that you’ll love our blog content. blog.drift.com/#subscribe Subscribe to never miss a post & join the 20,000+ other pros committed to getting better every day. ----- Marc Benioff is the founder and CEO of Salesforce. You know that. But have you read his book about starting and scaling Salesforce? It's called Behind the Cloud: The Untold Story of How Salesforce.com Went from Idea to Billion-Dollar Company-and Revolutionized an Industry -- and today we're breaking 3 lessons from the book and spitting them back to you Seeking Wisdom style. Come say hey on Instagram.com/heydrift. Here’s how you can support Seeking Wisdom if you’re a fan of the podcast: 1. Get your tickets to Hypergrowth using the promo code SEEKINGWISDOM at hypergrowth.drift.com 2. Subscribe on your favorite podcast app. 3. Leave us a five-star review. Here's how: bit.ly/5-Stars-Only.